Celebrating Strong Women Who Uplift Others

Meet our 2023 Award Recipients!

Celebrating Strong Women Who Uplift Others

Meet our 2023 Award Recipients!

The Pepper Pod’s ELLE-vation Awards recognize women in the Canadian veteran, military and RCMP community who uplift the women around them.

This spring, many beautiful and heartfelt nominations flooded our inboxes for the inaugural Award. In August, the diverse ELLE-vation Awards Committee met to review the nominations and select our three recipients.

The three recipients were the guests of honour at a Dinner In Our Forest in September 2023. We showered them in luxury—including flying them to Ottawa, treating them to a stay in a hotel and gifting them a day at the beautiful Spa Nordik.

Congratulations to all nominees and to our three award recipients!

ELLE-vation recipients 2023

We’re so pleased to introduce the inaugural recipients of ELLE-vation Awards:

Rear-Admiral (RAdm) Josée Kurtz

Exemplifying service before self

Josée’s interest in serving in the Canadian Armed Forces was first piqued when she was 10 and her neighbour’s son regaled her with stories about his adventures in basic training.

Since then, she’s had a lot of “firsts” in her career—first female Commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic, first woman to serve as Commandant and Vice-Chancellor of the Royal Military College and more.

But those firsts are not what drives her.

Throughout her career, Josée has demonstrated her commitment to creating a safe and respectful workplace with open lines of communication at all levels.

The person who nominated Josée remembers how she led with empathy from the very beginning of her tenure at RMC.

“Josée opened her doors to any cadet who needed a safe space,” says her nominator. “She exemplifies service before self, and her quiet tenacity and gentle manner show what leadership can look like.”

Sgt. (Ret’d) Jessica Miller

Creating a safe and inclusive space for women veterans

Jessica received not just one but two nominations recognizing her incredible support of women and veteran families through the Veteran Farm Project.

In 2018, Jess and her husband bought a hobby farm in Nova Scotia. Jess was inspired to create a safe and inclusive space for female veterans to rediscover themselves while transitioning to civilian life.

A former CAF medic, Jess recognizes the healing power that can be found in nature. Through the farm, she empowers women to come together and connect through nature, experiencing the physical and mental health benefits vital to healing and growing as veterans.

The farm also provides food boxes packed with fresh veggies for hundreds of veteran families experiencing food insecurity across Nova Scotia.

“Jess has so much heart and soul to give,” says one of her nominators. “She’s committed to helping others without wanting anything in return.”

WO Penelope Stuart

Role model and beacon of positive leadership

Penelope is an engaged leader and agent of positive change at 12 Wing Shearwater, the centre of naval aviation in Canada.

She saw the opportunity to have a candid conversation about inclusion in the workplace, and is now leading important discussions about integrating true inclusion at all levels.

Penelope has also been spreading her enthusiasm for jobs in the aviation mechanic trade. She says that every day is different, and she’s certainly faced challenges along the way. But, then again, Penelope relishes a good challenge! Her fierce growth mindset enabled her to develop the skills to become a world class Aircraft Maintenance Superintendent, and she still gets swept up in the majestic sight of aircraft taking flight and helicopters hovering.

Her nominator said that Penelope is a role model and beacon of positive leadership whose “can do” attitude inspires young women in the RCAF.

Go For It!

If there’s one thing our incredible finalists have in common, it’s the attitude of going for it. Whether leading with empathy, creating a safe haven, or sparking discussions about inclusion and women in the trades, our 2023 ELLE-vation Award recipients are blazing trails for our community.

We’re honoured that these three remarkable women are members of The Pepper Pod tribe—and that you are too!

Thank you to everyone who nominated extraordinary leaders, mentors, allies, coaches—everyday heroes who ELLE-vate others, every day. We’re looking forward to celebrating the incredible women in our community again next year.

Be sure to sign up for our SitRep newsletter to be the first to find out when nominations for the 2024 ELLE-vation Awards open next spring!